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So you are probably thinking..is she crazy? Writing about a plant that flourishes right after a fabulous shower, although there is no rain in sight? No, I am not crazy. Because even though we haven’t had rain in a short while, these rain lilies (zephyranthes candida) are tops. Mine came out in full force when it rained last and are still blooming strong–more than 2 weeks now.
I have white ones now, but picked up a dozen pink ones at Camellia Forest the other day.
This plant is pure magic in spring, summer or fall. After a rain they make green thickets with clusters of white (or pink) flowers.
- They are bulbs, so now is the time to plant.
- They prefer well drained soil…so yes, add a layer of good soil to that nasty NC clay we are all plagued with…
- Plant in bunches…you know kind of like daffodils…they look so much better together.
- Dig 2 inch hole, and 3-4 inch apart
- They can handle full sun to partial shade…such an amenable plant.
- I have heard and read they can grow 6-10 inches tall…I think that is about right, so plant them in front of beds so they don’t get lost by taller plants.
Have limited space, rain lilies can even be planted in containers..so for your next container addition..consider the low maintenance rain lily.
Toad Lily (aka Tricyrtis) need a good PR firm–
First the research guys would order a name change.
Then they’d roll out a big ad campaign with lots of bold text and exclamation points–
TOUGH–SHADE LOVING PERENNIAL !! LONG BLOOMING–LATE BLOOMING–EASY TO GROW!!!!
LIGHT UP THOSE DARK PLACES WITH THIS TROPICAL-LOOKING GEM!!!!
Then maybe more gardeners would get to know this great plant. Toad Lily is perfect in front of my two Pittosporum bushes in a dark spot by the porch steps. These plants started blooming in late August and they’re still blooming in October.
All the headlines are true.
Toad Lily has only two draw backs (besides its unbecoming name):
It’s more expensive than lots of other perennials. Must be hard to propagate and slow-growing. Still check out the big selection at Big Bloomers in Sanford. They have the best prices around.
Toad Lily is slow to emerge in the Spring, so make sure you mark the spot so you won’t accidentally dig it up.
Grow it where you would impatients and ferns. Toad Lilies flop at my house so I like having it by the path. It’s a nice way to showcase the blooms, which look more beautiful the closer you get.
Great for southern shade gardens–you should grow Toad Lilies (Tricyrtis)
So on the heels of blog partner Chris’s post on how to water during this fall drought, I thought I would write a more mythical solution to consider. I still see no rain in sight and the drooping leaves and the burnt-looking grass is all quite depressing. So I was inspired to continue the drought dialogue with a little legend and lore.
Yep, you guessed it–the legend and history of rain dancing–a practice since ancient times was executed in order to ask the gods for rain to protect or produce the harvest. I know that back in the day droughts were far more detrimental in terms of livelihood, but I would argue for me and my little garden they sure seem just as epic some days.
So let me share what I have dug up about the whole ritual and perhaps you will be inspired to “cut a rain rug or two.” I know I sure would do a silly jig if I knew it would produce some rain.
So the ritual of the rain dance crosses time and culture. Different cultures call it different things and have different variations, but the basic premise is to perform a ritual dance in order to please the god/s(varies by culture and time) to produce rain and sometimes ward off evil spirits. There are even reports of rain dance rituals as far back as ancient Egypt.
I thought I would describe a little about the Native Americans’ practice since it is a little closer to home and maybe more suitable for us here in NC (or the US in general…for all our readers). So different tribes had different dances to produce the wet stuff….Common rain dances feature dancing in a circle, the pouring of water, and whirling around, acting like the wind. The Hopi Indian rain dance includes holding a live venomous snake in the mouth. The Sioux Indians danced four times around a jug of water, threw themselves to the ground, and then drank from the jug. Rain dances may also be performed by other cultures for reasons such as life, health, and power.
I don’t know about you, but I am not desperate enough to put a snake in my mouth. But I would be willing to dance in a circle and/or drink from a jug of water.
Here is a cool video with some rain dance examples. I like the music…very peaceful.
Here is another fun fact about Rain dances, unlike other rituals in many Native American tribes, women and men both performed them. Many historians credited some Native Americans as being some of the earliest meterologist in our history. They could track certain weather patterns and help predict weather for early settlers. They would even barter the “act” of rain dancing for modern goods.
Surprisingly the rain dance was one of the few ritual dances that survived. Often Native Americans would call all their dances, like the Sun dance, rain dances to fool federal officials into leaving them alone and to their business.
So history seems to look fondly on the rain dance and with the dust bowl in my backyard, I am willing to try anything. How about you? Will you go in your backyard with a symbolic feather and tourquise(symbols of wind and water, respectively) and dance in a circle around a jug if there was the slightest chance it would produce rain?
Let me know…perhaps if we all do it….we will get rain. Let’s do it on a weekday not to ruin our weekend…ok?
The great Elizabeth Lawrence introduced me to this plant in her book, A Southern Garden. If you want to garden in the South, find a copy of this classic, first printed in 1942. No glossy pictures, but the best info about what will grow here, what and when to plant it.
Modern author and bulb expert, Scott Ogden, likes Oxblood lily too. “No other Southern bulb can match the fierce vigor, tenacity and adaptability of the Oxblood lily,” he says in handy reference book, Garden Bulbs for the South.
I agree. In my garden they bloom without any care or extra water at the base of a giant Lonicera fragratissima which often shades them heavily, until I spot the red flowers and cut the branches back.
Oxblood Lilies not only survive in this difficult spot–they multiply.
It’s one of those plants with some name confusion. Look for Rhodopbiala bifida or the older latin name, Hippeastrum advenum. Better yet, just call it Oxblood Lily.
Another late summer bulb that I love goes by the colorful common name, Pink Naked Ladies . When Amaryllis belladonna jumped out of the front ferns on a 98 degree day earlier this month, I felt like an absolute genius.
And because good things come in threes, here’s a look at my all time favorite late bulb–the Red Spider Lily. Hymenocallis is an old Southern plant that makes lovely drifts along the woods paths every September.
Bret and Becky’s Bulbs is a great source for these bulbs (if you order in the spring). A family owned Virginia company, I really like giving them my business. Once I called with a daffodil question and Bret answered the phone. Can’t beat that kind of service.
Terra Ceia in Pango, NC often stocks spider lilies. I’ve had really good luck buying from them, too. Put this plant on your list for spring.
And yes, daffodils are wonderful–but they are anticipated, even anxiously awaited at my house. Late bulbs just jump out of the ground and surprise. You should grow them.
There is something about an exotic yet humble flower–a member of the petunia family it is. This year the domestic petunia didn’t do so well for me. I think it was becuase I waited a little later in planting and that early heat wave didn’t allow them to take hold. Anyway..that is not what I am writing about today…
No, I am writing about the Mexican petunia (Ruellia brittoniana)…I added them to my tropical garden this year. They have this awesome trumpet-shaped flowers in a bright purple- blue on a 3 foot stalk. There stalks sway gracefully in the breeze.
Here is a quick guide on how to grow:
- Plant in late spring or early summer
- Fertile soil is key–don’t forget to mulch.
- Soil should be moist–they love our humidity–it is like a spa steam room for these plants
- They are hard usually zone 8-10, but I got these locally at Big Bloomers where they were bred zone hard for 7 which is what I am in. We will see if these typical evergreen flowers will indeed stay that way.
- You can propogate all types of ways, sees, cuttings, dividing…so I hope to share maybe next year.
They say they are invasive, but mostly just in Florida, but I haven’t seen those tendencies so far.
So perhaps next year, you will try Mexican Petunias–add a little exotic.
You should definitely grow that.